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Maslow's Hierarchy

Abraham Maslow created a 'Hierarchy of Prepotence' or 'Hierarchy of Needs' as it is most commonly known, and is probably the most commonly quoted system for understanding human motivation. From the bottom up, this is:

  • Physiological needs. Biological necessities such as food, water, and oxygen. These needs are the strongest because a person would die if they were not met.
  • Safety needs. People feel unsafe during emergencies or times of disorder like rioting. Children more commonly do not have this need met when they feel afraid.
  • Love and belonging needs. The need to escape loneliness and alienation, to give and receive love, and a sense of belonging.
  • Esteem needs. The need to feel valuable; to have self-respect and the respect of others. If a person does not fulfil these needs, they feel inferior, weak, helpless, and worthless.
  • Self-actualization needs. Maslow taught that a very small group of people reach a level called self-actualization, where all of their needs are met. Maslow described self-actualization as a person's finding their "calling." He said, "a musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write."

A key point about this is that if the lower needs are not met, then the higher needs are forgotten until the lower needs are sufficiently satisfied. Thus, when you are seriously ill, you care little about work or looking good--you just want to get better. Robbers understand this principle well, in the way very few people will be brave when they have a gun pointing at their head.

See also:

Abraham Maslow, Motivation

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